Boys and Group Fitness: A month at CrossTown Fitness with my Brother

A few months ago (before I was a contributing writer for ASweatLife) I won the #UpgradeMySweat sweepstakes. While I thoroughly enjoyed the sugary rush of lemonade coconut water and gained a new love for Asics running shoes, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully take advantage of winning a month of classes at CrossTown Fitness (“CrossTown” or “CTF”). Enter: my older brother, Cam. My brother lives in the same neighborhood as CTF and was gym-less at the time, and a small (ok, big) part of me wanted to see how he would react to taking group fitness classes.

To be honest, most conversations I have with my male counterparts on the topic of group fitness classes go something like this:

Me: I had a barre class this morning and I am really weird-sore. (Weird-sore: adjective, used to describe one’s body after working muscles that are often disregarded, usually as an effect of doing awkward-looking workout moves*). *See: “hip thrusts” or “fire hydrant” as an example.

Guy: (Eye roll) I did legs this morning at the gym so I’m actually sore. Isn’t barre that class with those baby weights? Does that even do anything? What goes on in those classes anyways? (Guy subsequently imagines scenes of groups of girls having pillow fights).

I had been to class at CrossTown before and I’ve survived Nike Training Club workouts with CTF trainer Betina Gozo, so I knew that my brother was in for (a) some really great workouts and (b) a huge butt (and arms, core, legs) whoopin’. I also figured that CrossTown offered very approachable classes for males – these high intensity classes incorporate a lot of strength training and deliver a tough and versatile workout for any gender.

I also knew that my brother, like me, likes to take advantage of a good deal (after all, this is America, land of the free and home of the buffets). I have a hard time taking full advantage of an unlimited week of workout classes without skipping a time or two – I was curious to see how many classes he could handle with an unlimited month. Cam is no sloth, either. He was born and raised on team sports and hit his marathon PR in 2013 with a time of 3:55 (that’s just under 9 minute miles for 26.2 miles straight, for those calculating at home). He also has a Wii fit, so there’s that.

In the conversation below, I asked my brother about his experiences at CrossTown and how his expectations and appreciation for group fitness evolved throughout his month of classes in January. Cam is also going to (hopefully not?) hate me for this, but I’ve also included some of his first impressions he sent me over text message during his first few trips to CTF.

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Cam looking strong at mile 16 of the 2013 Chicago Marathon

Before your first class at CrossTown, what was your impression of group fitness classes?

I thought that they were a waste of money and I could accomplish just as much and likely more during my workouts. I thought that people mainly did it for social reasons. I also thought that it was mostly cardio and that I would burn fat but not necessarily build muscle during the workouts.

What was it like going in for your very first class? Were you nervous – and if so, why?

I didn’t think anything of it until the day of. For some weird reason I was a little nervous maybe because I knew most people had their friends in and outside of the class and I just didn’t have a clue what to expect.

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On a scale of 1 – not getting out of bed, how sore were you after your first class?

I could honestly hardly get out of bed, so I gotta go with “not getting out of bed.” I can’t remember the last time I was that sore for that long. It probably didn’t help that it had been about a year since I did anything close to athletic or working out (unless you count my softball beer league). [Note: we do].

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Did it get any easier?

The first week was ROUGH. [Note: Cam might have admitted to having that “I might throw up” feeling after his first few classes]. I felt much better starting in my second week and felt like a champ by week 4.

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Were you afraid of the gender ratio in class or was it comfortable?

I got over it really quickly once I saw all of the women just dominating me in pretty much every exercise. I also wasn’t close to being the only guy in the class. It wasn’t a big deal.

What changed (your body, your mentality, etc?) throughout your month at CTF?

Most importantly my body. I didn’t realize how out of shape I had gotten, but my pants fit again and I can see my abs!

Do you think more guys could benefit from going to group fitness classes?

Absolutely – and not just for the cardio or if they want to lose weight. There is a ton of strength training. I highly recommend to single guys getting ready for beach season – looking at Mataz. [Note: “Mataz” is a nickname for our middle brother who may or may not be single and getting ready for beach season, ladies].

Are you going to continue going to group fitness classes in the future?

I am. I am actually currently trying to convince my friend to buy a week long pass to test the waters. Either way, I am going to continue going and getting my ass kicked.


Cam and I are currently planning on signing up for a class at CrossTown Fitness together in the near future. We are now taking bets on who will get the most reps in.


Move Studio Fitness

About Cass Gunderson

Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is a full-time student at the University of Chicago's Booth Graduate Business School. Before deciding to throw away all her money to go back to school, Cass worked for a private equity firm that buys technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. Cass has completed four marathons and one ultramarathon (she claims she'll never do this to herself again, but that's TBD). She can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.

6 thoughts on “Boys and Group Fitness: A month at CrossTown Fitness with my Brother

  1. I love that guys take the classes at CTF … more so when I feel like I’m crushing it more than they are! (Let’s not compare how heavy our weights are.) Until we get on the chin up bar. Ugh.

    1. Haha, totally feel you on this! My brother brought his friend (who had never done group classes) with us this past Saturday and I’m always entertained by the reaction of newbie guys when the girls are killing it in some of the strength exercises.

    1. Haha he told me that! That’s awesome! You kicked his butt, haha, as expected though. & I definitely will in the near future!!

  2. What a great take on things! I have to come up with and lead my own class coming up soon and I am interested in how my husband will handle it (Im forcing him to come of course).

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